Nick Cushing confirmed he has no fresh injury concerns, ahead of City’s Women’s International Champions Cup clash against Atletico Madrid.
The English cup double winners face the Spanish Champions in the Third Place Play-Off on Sunday (5pm EDT, 10pm BST), with both sides having fallen to last-gasp defeats to the North Carolina Courage and Lyon respectively in the semi-finals.
TICKETS: City v United | Kids go free!
Cushing delivered a squad update in his pre-match press conference, expressing his satisfaction for his side’s efforts and the challenges they have faced in the United States.
Discussing his squad’s fitness and availability, he said: “Nobody picked anything significant up (against the Courage) – everyone was in training on Saturday morning.
“We’ll look at the group. It’s pre-season and whether we make changes (from the side that faced North Carolina) or play the same team, it’s still pre-season.
“Of course, we want to win but we have to take things into account.
“The game against the Courage was Day 18 of pre-season so for us to be with them – a very athletic, physical team, who are in the middle of their season – was of huge benefit.
“We know we have to be better physically and be able to win, seeing the game out.
“We’re aware of where we are and we have to put things into context, making sure we’re stronger every day and in each session.
“Our training is always competitive for every player – whether they’re a senior international or a young player. We have to make sure every training programme stays competitive.
“Ultimately, we have to make sure we’re ready for (the Manchester Derby Super League opener) on Saturday 7 September.
“This tournament – with the weather and the level of opposition – is excellent preparation.
“We have objectives and ultimately, this has been a positive experience and just what we wanted – a tough game against a team we couldn’t normally come up against, who are physical and direct. We had to build against their press and find space against a physical team.
“Everybody is hungry and ambitious – not only for the Derby, but for the whole season.”
Sunday’s encounter against Atletico marks a repeat of last season’s hotly-contested Champions League Round of 32 tie, in which the Spanish side triumphed over two legs.
Although disappointed not to have reached the Final of the tournament, Cushing is eager to lock horns with the Spaniards again to analyse City’s level before the eagerly-anticipated 2019/20 campaign.
“The games last year were very competitive,” he reflected. “Both teams were fairly even.
“They were probably the better team over a game-and-a-half, and this one is going to be a really good game.
“Ourselves and Atletico are probably the most similar teams here.
“We’re both at stages of our pre-season and it will be a good game to watch because we’re both footballing teams – we like to have control of the ball.
“It will be an interesting game and a different one to the other night.
“It will be really good preparation for the Champions League and the big games we have to play in if we want to win trophies.
“We’re competitive and everyone wants to win. We’re disappointed not to be in the Final but we want to go and win this game.”
Cushing’s side kick-off the new 2019/20 Super League campaign with a mouth-watering first professional Manchester Derby against Manchester United. Tickets are available and kids go free – don’t miss out!